The Oyster Blog

All oysters, all the time. Except when it's books.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A treif plate at the Greenwich Hyatt, May 21, 2006


Oysters: These oysters of unstated provenance were not in fact very delicious. I did not eat all three, turning to the bacon and mozzarella for consolation when I realized after the first two that they would not be an occasion of joy. They lacked the fresh cold wetness I associate with a good oyster, and had something of the texture of wet Vietnamese rice paper—which is a good thing when it's used in Vietnamese food, and not a good thing when you're talking about oysters.

Reading: Camembert: A National Myth, by Pierre Boisard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). Despite its title, which is guaranteed to cause a laugh, this was a serious and interesting book about food history, standardization, national identity and, in the end, globalization. Some choice excerpts:

Like France itself, Camembert has changed enormously over the course of the past five decades. (page 175)

traditional Camembert loves secrecy and mistrusts precise description. (page 192)

On 14 June 1944, the Allied air forces accidentally bombed Vimoutiers. The town center was almost totally destroyed, and two hundred civilians were killed. The statue of Marie Harel [purported inventor of Camembert; according to Boisard, this is not true] was decapitated. (page 208)

You can sniff a melon, but not a Camembert. (page 214)

Strong cheeses have not only arouse the anathema of doctors, they have also provoked violent revulsion in the refined and the sensitive, as illustrated by the edifying life of the French saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque. This holy nun sought out the most severe expiatory means by which to mortify her flesh and could not imagine any more violent suffering than the eating of cheese. The very thought of it nearly made her faint. However, so powerful was her love of God that she was bound and determined to undergo the trial, despite the warnings of her Mother Superior. After having put it off for years, she finally made up her mind to make the sacrifice and, after having nearly given up several times and having spent an entire night in prayer, she managed it. For this pure soul, eating a revolting substance like cheese, laden as it was with every worldly turpitude, was the supreme sacrifice, a descent into the slime of the world. (pages 219-220)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Six Snow Creeks at the Oyster Bar, Grand Central

Six Snow Creeks, from Discovery Bay, Washington State. They had a subtle, sweet buttery taste that made them creamier than I usually like, but they were gentle enough that I enjoyed them very much. Small, soft, and relatively calm, they were best with horseradish or the Oyster Bar's tarragon vinegar. I did not venture lemon juice (I never do), but they were good with cocktail sauce as well as just on their own. Introduced and chased by Brooklyn Lager.

Reading: The Economist.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bluepoints at Brew Haus, Norwalk, Connecticut

Sunday morning brunch, Brew Haus Pub in Norwalk, Connecticut
May 7, 2006

A mixed plate, these Bluepoints. Three of the five were detached from their shells, and they had a not-as-fresh-as-might-be taste to them despite Norwalk's old reputation for its oyster industry. Chewy, briny, and definitely improved by both horseradish and cocktail sauce.

Reading: Rabbis and Wives, by Chaim Grade. Take Anthony Trollope, drop him in a shtetl in Lithuania between the world wars, and switch Anglicanism for mitnagdish Judaism, and you've got Chaim Grade.